Teaching Your Child About Authority: 3 Tips

Interacting with formal authority is a necessary and in fact important part of any functional society and you want to teach your child to be part of society. 

Of course, teaching anyone can be challenging, and often even more so for children. So here are some tips for you. 

Explain the Role of Authorities

Having your child understand why is the first step because you want them to really grasp just how important these roles are so that we have a functioning and safe society.

So start with an open conversation about the different things that people in authority do. Talk about how teachers educate and guide students to help them learn and grow, how police officers and associations keep the entire community safe by being there for emergencies and maintaining order, and how government officials create and enforce laws that ultimately keeps society good. 

Ofcourse, you want to use age-appropriate language and real-life examples so that what you explain is relatable. Say you’re explaining about police officers, you might share a specific example: “Remember the policeman who helped everyone cross the road on Tuesday? They’re there to make sure everyone stays safe and follows the rules on the road.”

Emphasize Respectful Communication

If you’re going to encourage positive relationships and cooperation between your child and authority figures, teaching effective communication is non negotiable. 

Take a proactive approach. Why not role-play scenarios with your children where they interact with authority figures using polite language, addressing authority figures with appropriate titles (like Mr. or Mrs.), and actively listening to instructions? 

For example, role playing a respectful interaction with a teacher: “Imagine you’re asking Mrs. Smith about a homework assignment. You could say, ‘Excuse me, Mrs. Smith, may I please ask a question about the homework? I didn’t really understand one part.'”

Lead by Example

Children do do what you do and not just what you say and so you want to constantly set powerful examples that reinforce the importance of treating authority figures with courtesy.

First, actively show respectful behavior in your own interactions with authority figures whether it’s talking to teachers, neighbors, or government officials; use polite language, follow rules, and even show that you’re grateful for their help. Then, you want to explain your actions to your child, especially why mutual respect is absolutely essential for building any positive relationships as it’s how you can give your children tangible examples that they can copy for themselves in their interactions. 

For example, for interacting with a government official, you might share your experience thus: “Today, when I spoke with the local official about community concerns, I made sure to talk about my thoughts and feelings respectfully. I thanked them for their time and asked about their day.”

Respecting authority is a strong indicator of a good, polite member of society and so you want to make sure that your child knows how. Try out these tips.

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